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Herkimer College implements new safety measures, conducts COVID-19 testing during move-in weekend

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Herkimer County Community College saw two positive cases of COVID-19 as a result of testing conducted during move-in weekend held September 5-6, 2020. Additional testing will be held throughout the semester.

Herkimer County Community College saw two positive cases of COVID-19 as a result of testing conducted during move-in weekend held September 5-6, 2020.

The College implemented a new process for move-in weekend in the wake of the pandemic, including a reduction to the amount of on-campus housing available. Students were assigned specific time slots to move in, and were only allowed to bring one guest to aid them in order to reduce the amount of outside traffic to the area. Both individuals had to report to a designated tented area in the main parking lot, where a rapid-response COVID-19 test was administered by a professional from Primary Urgent Care. Complimentary spray bottles of New York State Clean hand sanitizer were also provided.

Throughout move-in weekend, a total of 392 COVID-19 rapid response tests were conducted. Of these tests, there were only two positive results, with those individuals, as well as individuals accompanying them, being turned away from the College. The College now has 228 students living on campus.

“Once again, I must reinforce how very important it is for all of us to remain vigilant in wearing our masks, washing our hands often, and keeping a safe distance from others,” President Cathleen McColgin said in an email to the campus community. “We all must do our part to protect ourselves and our community, so we can all have a healthy and successful semester.”

The College will continue monitoring for COVID-19 through a pooled surveillance testing method. SUNY was approved by the New York State Department of Health in August to undertake pooled surveillance testing for COVID-19 — an innovative method where numerous samples can be run as part of one test. SUNY's pooled testing approach was developed and validated by SUNY Upstate Medical University. It uses multiple saliva samples, allowing for between 10 and 25 people to be screened for the SARS-CoV-2 virus in one test. With a negative result, the entire pool is presumed to be COVID-19 free. If a positive result comes up, then only the individuals in that pool will be tested.

Residential students; commuter students enrolled in one or more on-campus, in-person classes; and all student-athletes regardless of the type of class delivery they are enrolled will be tested every other week. Faculty and staff may also participate in the pooled surveillance testing. A COVID-19 case tracker is available on the College’s website at www.herkimer.edu/restart ensuring transparency regarding testing results and other key data points.